As an author, I know I can't please everyone. I've given up on thinking that I can a long time ago. What I now concentrate on are the good things. Don't get me wrong, I love critical reviews, as long as the reviewer writes to inform and assist, not attack an author.
I've taken to heart my critical reviews and make certain I don't make the same mistakes twice. I don’t use an editor, so sometimes things get overlooked. Heck, errors slip by in New York Times Bestsellers. Don’t believe me... Look at your copy of Twilight—I know you have a copy…LOL!—there’s a mistake in the first chapter.
"The room was familiar; it had been belonged to me since I was born."
This was an easy slip; she’d obviously been tossing between, “it had belonged to me” or “it had been mine”. BUT…it didn’t affect my review. I liked the story. Though juvenile in some respects, it was original and romantic. But, I also didn’t discount the book because I thought it was juvenile; after all, it’s a young adult, so that wouldn’t be fair. And yet, I see reviewers do that.
What really gets me are the attacks against the characters. If a reader doesn’t like a book, that is fine. It is their opinion, and they have every right to review as they wish. BUT…giving away spoilers and criticizing the writer because of the characters doesn’t seem right to me. I was reading reviews of Safe Harbor by Nicholas Sparks the other day, and some of the vicious comments appalled me. One reader claimed that the villain wasn’t scary, basically criticized the heroine for escaping an abusive marriage. Then she went on to say she reads Sparks’ books when she needs a good laugh. Really? Does she have nothing better to do with her life? Why would you continue to read an author you don't like?
Now, can I finish this post by saying thank you to the readers who write honest and heartfelt reviews? I don’t just mean the five-star reviews. I’m talking about any reader who takes the time to write an honest review without attacking and/or writing spoilers.
And if you loved a book, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to review. Sadly, people are quick to attack, but not as hurried to commend. I get emails, blog comments, Twitter, and Facebook replies all the time about how much a reader loved my book, but they don’t write a review.
Please don’t be afraid because you don’t like to write. Readers—and authors—just want to know you liked or didn’t like. We don’t need a long synopsis. Just a sentence or two is wonderful in my opinion. :)
And lastly, if you as the reader/author love a review, please make certain you thank the reviewer for taking the time, by clicking ‘Yes’ if the review was helpful.
Thank you, readers, for taking the time!
Until next time, happy reading, friends!
If you would like to read a little more about what I write, follow the links below. My stories are available in print and eBook formats at your favorite retailer. You can download my mini-mysteries with a paranormal edge absolutely FREE or start with my romantic-suspense bestseller She Belongs to Me for only .99 cents. From there, all my stories are priced 'less than a latte', so READ UP and enjoy!
Kudos Carmen! I agree wholeheartedly! People seem to be so vicious now when reviewing. I feel constructive criticism is important for the author to grow. But when you are out right attacking an author because you want their ratings to go down, now that is juvenile!ReplyDelete
Keep up the good work Carmen!
Thank you, Terry! Exactly. I read 'Safe Haven', and honestly, I liked it better than any other of Nicholas Sparks' books, even though I figured out the 'real' mystery almost immediately.Delete
But let me tell you, her husband was vicious. Mostly mentally, but physically abusive too. I can only assume, as you said, that the reviewer was trying to bring down his rating. Because no one in their right mind would call an abusive husband "not scary"
I know there are different levels of abuse, heck I get charged with mental abuse in my first book, which I don't see, but oh well... But physical abuse...there's no gray area. The first time a man raises a hand to a woman should be the last...and that goes for women too. I would never endorse in my books or real life, a woman hitting a man, unless in self-defense. Not even the famous "Hollywood Slap". Never!
Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Hope you have a great weekend. :)
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Hey Carmen, good thoughts.ReplyDelete
I too periodically go through and thank readers who've taken the time to post a review for my books. Even some of the 3 stars have nice things to say. Oh, and one of my favs is a 1 star review for my romantic suspense, A Dangerous Harbor. The reader wrote in all caps "THIS BOOK WAS OFFENSIVE. REALLY TRASHY FROM THE GET-GO. I SHUDDER TO THINK OF YOUNGER PEOPLE DOWNLOADING AND READING THIS STUFF."
Thank you sooo much. This is exactly what I was going for!
Friday, May 17, 2013
I think you're right... I should add that the "author" too should thank. Of course, silly me, I thought that was a given. LOL!Delete
I have some great three-star reviews. In fact, after reading some, I wondered why it was a three star. But I think a lot of readers don't call a three star a 'critical' review as Amazon does. I always thought it meant. It was good...didn't love it, didn't hate it. But I finished it and was happy afterward. :)
If that reviewer only knew what young adults read... Then again, I look back at what they were feeding us in high school. 'Flowers in the Attic' for one ...yikes...how did I get that at fourteen??? :)
This is an excellent post, Carmen.ReplyDelete
It seems less than 1% of readers post a review. So while a given author might have 50 4- and 5-star reviews and a dozen 1- and 2-star reviews, there might be hundreds of other readers who would rate the book 4 or 5 stars had they left a review. So we must not dwell on the negative reviews. Novelist Elle Lothlorien is an advocate of actually replying to negative reviews on Amazon, in order to clarify problems or to try to make the reviewer feel better. She likens it to good customer service any of us would hope for at a restaurant, for example. Some argue that reading a novel and eating at a restaurant are different experiences. But I would suggest that each is an experience the person is hoping for. When the reality falls short of our expectations, we are often disappointed.
But that doesn't mean it's okay to flame an author because you didn't like their book. You're right, Carmen, that discussing the story and our perceived shortcomings is one thing; personally attacking the author is something else entirely.
As for TWILIGHT, I read it to see what all the fuss was about. I became a fan and read the whole series twice. It's a wonderful love story. We root for Edward and Bella. The typos clearly don't matter because it was still a massive success. I strive to keep my manuscripts as clean as possible. But typos happen. Not the end of the world. At the end of the day, story reigns supreme.
Great comments, Ryan. I feel the same way... of course, I wouldn't dare respond to an unhappy reader, as usually it'll just cause more grief. But I do see Elle's point. And probably, if you did it from review one--good and bad--it would probably work.Delete
Love that you read 'Twilight'. I think it is important for authors to read whatever is selling... because anyone can 'tell' us what readers want, but I prefer to read it for myself.
I really enjoyed the love story. I think I appreciated Edward's old-fashioned morals the most. Don't see that too often. Heck, my books aren't even that sweet. LOL!
The other series I just finished was the "Hunger Games", again, other than the Capital's Games, it was morally sound, so I'm impressed that these two series have done so well. It's nice to see.
Thank you for commenting. Have a great weekend.
Thanks so much for a wonderful post, Carmen. Since getting published I've come to realize how important reviews are and try and post one for everything I read. I wish more people would realize the importance of them.ReplyDelete
Speaking of reviews, I'm about to go write one now. :)
I envy how many books you read and review, while being a mother to a young child and one on the way, all while writing a great novel. And I love reading your reviews. Very insightful. :)Delete
Hey, Carmen - don't know how you have your comments set up, but I can't read your replies unless I highlight them - what is that, yellow text on white? Can't see it.ReplyDelete
Anyway, I didn't used to review everything I read, but I've been trying to for the past couple of years. What some authors don't realize is that while a lot of people might download their books, they don't always read them right away. I have books I've literally picked up YEARS ago but haven't had the time to read yet. I tend to accumulate them like crazy in spurts and then read as many as possible and then go buy a bunch more.
Three stars are not really negative reviews; they're more "meh" reviews. If I write a three-star review that means either I liked it okay but wasn't blown away, or I didn't like it but thought it would be good enough to recommend to other people. An author only has to worry if I leave one or two-star reviews... :-) Fortunately, long-time readers who actually read for enjoyment tend to pick out books they think they will like. I do not at all understand people who waste their time deliberately reading things they know they don't like. There are too many GOOD books out there to waste that reading time!
See reply below. :)Delete
That's a great post and I agree with you 100%. I received a 1 Star review from someone at Goodreads who admitted she hadn't read my book and never would, even if it was free, because the cover was a turn off and had no relation to the story. She then went on to give her warped idea of the synopsis of the story and had completely misinterpreted it!!! It's no wonder as she hadn't read it! That person, believe it or not, was.... an AUTHOR! Her review was venomous as if she was personally attacking me. I broke the rules and replied to her, challenging her to read the book before rating it and to never judge a book by its cover. I also said that if she truly didn't like the cover, that's fine, and that I have plans to change it when the sequel is ready for publication, but that it IS appropriate to the story.
To my surprise two days later she OVERTYPED her original review with a revision (no one will ever see now how nasty she had been), claiming she had now read it after downloading it free, but she only upgraded it to 2 Stars (thanks a bunch!), and whilst she gave a more constructive review this time I still disregarded it as it still had a venomous tone and she clearly has a dislike for me. I then managed to trace her blog and found she'd written a whole post about it in which she claimed she didn't read the book to the end. I am still so angry about it because as an author she should know how ratings affect sales and, well, she should simply know better.
Like you, I don't mind lower rating reviews if they are clearly constructive, but there's no need to get snippy and nasty in the process, and for goodness sake, read the damn book before commenting! LOL
I'm off my soap box now... ...
As an aside, just to let you know, I was only able to read your reply to the above comments by highlighting the reply box. I think your font is set to white. You might want to check it out. Hope you don't mind me saying.
See next comment. :)Delete
Perfect example, Alice! And ridiculous on her part. I've seen a lot of horrid covers, and while I do base my first impression on a cover, I don't judge the entire book until I've read it. I saw two reviews the other day, written by readers who admittedly did not read past the first page and yet wrote a review as though they'd read the entire book. In these situations, I do believe Amazon should remove the review. But I'm sure they won't. Sadly, these reviews, in my opinion, are simply an attack on the author. Usually, in these situations, I've noticed they've written a few reviews all within a day or so, and never write another review. I can only ascertain that their entire goal is to attack an author for whatever reason. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I've seen it too many times not to at least question it.ReplyDelete
Again, I understand that we need reviews, but I appeal to the reading public to keep them unbiased. Just because you do not agree with someone, doesn't mean you should attack them. We aren't allowed to do it in real life, why should a review be any different.
Everyone has different ways of doing things, and I wouldn't want to read a 'scripted' review. BUT...as I am an avid reader first and foremost, I read a lot of book blogs, Goodreads, and Amazon reviews. Here are a few things I want to know when I read a review.
- Plain and simple, the first thing I want to know is did you like the story.
- If so, why?
- Could you identify with the characters?
- Did you take something from it?
- Would you read another book by this author?
Now... I don't need a book graded as though you are an English Teacher, remember, some rules are meant to be broken, especially if they are natural speech. But if you found a plethora of errors, yes, I want to know. If you found a couple, who cares? Though Nicholas Sparks' books are some of the cleanest edited books I have read, I still find a couple errors in every book. No one, absolutely no one, is perfect. So unless it is riddled with errors, I don't care as a reader.
If the author can bring me to the finish line, and I am able to summarize the book to a friend who may want to read it, I'm happy. I live to read, so I'm on to the next book. I don't have time to write a three-page draft of why I hated the book so much. If I don't like a book, I put it down, and that's all the time in my life that author will receive from me. Life's too short. :)
Very true, Katy. And thank you for taking the time to review--and comment on my website. And I certainly understand. I'm still reviewing books I read twenty years ago.ReplyDelete
Sadly, the couple of one-star reviews that I have came from the first run of my book, and admittedly, there were a few errors because I did not have the beta readers I do now. I edit my own books, and unfortunately, it is so easy to read-over your own mistakes. After all, you are the one who made them, so you tend to miss them, as that's how you think. :)
But...as you mentioned, I think the ones that boggle my mind are the ones who attack when they choose to read something they don't like. One reviewer said, paraphrasing..."I'll start with the fact that I don't like romantic mysteries..." Well, okay...I can see trying to read the book, but why would you give one star to a book because you don't like the genre, when you admit that you never like that genre. LOL! Secondly, my description of my books make it VERY clear what my books are about. Love, Obsession, Mystery... so you should also not be surprised. The description also states that when hero meets heroine, "first time he is awestruck". So if you don't believe in "love at first sight", why bother? Did anyone rate 'Romeo and Juliet' or 'Les Miserables' badly because of that? Well, they probably did. :)
Even though I just mentioned those two items, this blog isn't about my personal reviews. As I mentioned, I'm okay with a reader's opinion, but when I read some of the reviews of my peers' books, I guess I just want to stand up for them.
I also have never looked at a three-star review as a bad review, even though Amazon categorizes it as a 'critical' review. I think the same as you: didn't love it, didn't hate it.
Have a great weekend!!! :)